Stretching Horizons: Stimulating Information Technology Education

Dr. Myungsook Klassen
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The study is to understand the underlying behavioural reasons among minority students that prevent a significant number of them from embarking on a college education with the aim of majoring in information technology related areas. The research takes an investigative look at the prevailing socioeconomic conditions in which minority students acquire educational competencies, form career aspirations, and enjoy the support of their family members and other important mentors. It is clear that the outcome of such behaviour and choice emanating from the surrounding environment of minority students has resulted in their drastic underrepresentation in the IT-related labour force.
Our three-part research model was synthesized from the pipeline concept, social cognition theory, and the status attainment model. High school students from federally funded Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math/Science programs were used in our study. Some principal findings are: educational aspirations, academic preparation and choice of subject matters related to IT education, attitude toward participating in curricular and extra-curricular activities at schools, confidence and self-esteem, perceived knowledge and ability in math, computer use and its availability at home and in school, attitude towards studying and working in an information technology, and motivation to attend college and choice of majors.

Keywords: Underrepresented Minority, Information Technology, Digital Divide, Pipeline Concept, Social Cognition Theory, Status Attainment Model, Socioeconomic Status
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Stretching Horizons

Dr. Myungsook Klassen

Associate Professor, Computer Science Department, California Lutheran University

Her research interest is in pattern recognition and in data mining and lately her new field is bioinformatics as well as computer education. She reviewed the current department programming courses as an attempt to recruit and retain computer science majors. It is known that over 40% of students change their majors after their first programming course. She created and installed survey instruments to evaluate the effectiveness of the programming class and introduced a new pedagogy by using modern 3D animation software in the new course to prepare students with weak computer science foundation. This is an attempt to increase minority and women in the computer science department. Her National Science Foundation Grant was from the Information Technology Task Force to investigate underrepresented minorities in the IT field.

She joined California Lutheran University in 1998 and is an associate professor and Computer Science Graduate Program Director. She had opportunities to join universities in Asia. She was an associate professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science at Soochow University in Taipei, Taiwan for seven years. She also was an assistant professor in the Department of Information Engineering at Chinese University of Hong Kong for two years. She was invited as a guest lecturer in May 2004 from the computer science department at Soochow University.

Dr. Klassen brings her industry experience to classrooms. She worked as a programmer and a programmer analyst in the process control company AccuRay Corporation in the engineering department and in the tech support group for 6 years. While she was pursuing her Ph.D, she briefly worked as a consultant for AIWare which was later acquired by Computer Associates. She became a founding member of an e-business company in 1999.

Ref: T05P0332